Mr. Willens

In a 1964 internal memo, Warren Report co-author Howard P. Willens wrote, “In a discussion, the Commission could rely on some witnesses and reject the testimony of others, such as Victoria Adams.”

His comment was in reference to the Report’s chapter that dealt with Oswald’s escape from the sixth floor. What always intrigued me was the inclusion of her name and her name alone.

Was it because the Commission had conducted a thorough look-see into Vicki’s claims and found them to be without merit? But that couldn’t be because, despite its promise to do so in her specific case, the Commission had done no such thing. In fact, it had avoided just such an examination.

So what then was the basis for her rejection?

We might discover a clue from Willens’ 1978 testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) where he discussed his role on the Warren Commission. During that appearance he said, “We thought it was important to have a fair and comprehensive treatment of the evidence. We also thought it would be desirable to support the Commission’s conclusions in as useful and as persuasive a way as possible.”

(The reader should note that those conclusions regarding Oswald’s guilt were spelled out in January 1964, a month before the Commission would call its first witness to the stand.)

Willens’ explanation prompted a related HSCA question: “Do I understand you correctly to be saying that where information or evidence might have been subjected to sharp challenge in an adversary proceeding there was an inclination of the Commission staff not to rely on it but to rely instead on evidence that could not have been as sharply criticized or challenged?”

“That certainly was a general effort,” Willens admitted. “I don’t know how well it was achieved in the overall Report but I do know that it was of particular concern with respect to the evidence implicating Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Was that it? Were Vicki’s words considered a “sharp challenge”? Would she have presented a problem in an adversary proceeding where the facts were honestly being sought? Although her testimony was not officially rejected, as Willens first recommended, its substance certainly met that fate.

In 2013, Willens continued with the same mindset. He failed to mention Vicki or her important trip down the stairs in his commemorative 50th-anniversary book,untitled “History Will Prove Us Right: Inside the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.” He would though cite the more “useful” and “persuasive” bits and pieces.

After reading his book for a third time, I obtained the author’s email address through his publisher. I wanted to see if he’d provide some clarification on several issues.

“If you have a serious question about who did it,” he responded, “further correspondence is probably a waste of your time and mine. If that is not the case, then by all means send me your questions.”

And so I did.

Why was Victoria Adams singled out in that 1964 memo? If when she came down the stairs was so vital, as David Belin and others on the Commission staff implied as early as February 1964, why wasn’t she included in the timed re-enactments of Oswald’s escape? In that same regard, why weren’t the three women who stood next to Vicki at the window questioned, particularly Sandra Styles who accompanied Vicki down the stairs? Why did the Commission elevate the times of when Vicki said she left her office and when she said she arrived on the first floor?

“I do not see any important issue involved here,” Willens generalized in reply. “There is no doubt that Oswald descended on the stairs. There is no doubt that [Vicki] did likewise. If they were on the stairs at the same time, she might have, or might not have, heard his steps. Her testimony was not rejected because she did not see or hear him.

Willens

Howard Willens

“In fact,” Willens went on, “the Report relies on the testimony of other witnesses, as well as hers, to try and reconstruct the events in the Depository in the minutes after the assassination. The Report states that she saw Shelley and Lovelady ‘when she reached the first floor.’ This is consistent with the testimony of Shelley and Lovelady to the effect that they ‘entered the building by the rear door several minutes after Baker and Truly rushed through the front entrance.’ Upon entering they saw a young lady who they believed was Miss Adams. All three witnesses agree on seeing each other on the first floor.”

Let’s closely examine that last paragraph:

“The Report states that she saw Shelley and Lovelady ‘when she reached the first floor.'”

The Report does indeed cite a portion of Vicki’s testimony in which she is quoted as saying she saw those men on the first floor.

“This is consistent with the testimony of Shelley and Lovelady to the effect that they ‘entered the building by the rear door several minutes after Baker and Truly rushed through the front entrance.'”

Both men did in fact testify to remaining outside the Depository for several minutes before returning to the first floor.

“Upon entering they saw a young lady who they believed was Miss Adams.”

Here is where Willens is blatantly wrong. His use of the word “they,” in two instances no less, implies both Shelley and Lovelady saw a young lady who each man thought was Vicki Adams. That is not true, however. Both men did not say they saw a young lady, and both men did not say that young lady was believed to be Miss Adams.

This is what William Shelley said:

 

Q: When you came into the shipping room did you see anybody?
A: I saw Eddie Piper.
Q: Who else did you see?
A: That’s all we saw immediately.
Q: Did you ever see Vickie [sic] Adams?
A: I saw her that day but I don’t remember where I saw her…I thought it was on the fourth floor a while after that.

 

Cross off Shelley, who does not recall seeing Vicki on the first floor but rather on the floor where she actually worked, later that day. What about Billy Lovelady?

 

Q: Who did you see in the first floor?
A: I saw a girl but I wouldn’t swear to it it’s Vickie [sic].

 

A most curious statement for Lovelady to make since, in all of his testimony up to that point, “Vickie” or “Vicki” or any other derivation or reference to that name had not been mentioned.

 

Q: Who is Vickie?
A: The girl that works for Scott Foresman.
Q: What is her full name?
A: I wouldn’t know.
Q: Vickie Adams?
A: I believe so.
Q: Would you say it was Vickie you saw?
A: I couldn’t swear.
Q: Where was the girl?
A: I don’t remember what place she was but I remember seeing a girl and she was talking to Bill or something….

 

But “Bill” said he saw only employee Eddie Piper and no one else. He didn’t mention speaking with anyone or being spoken to, let alone it being Vicki Adams. And did Lovelady’s comments really justify the Warren Report’s assertion that, “On entering, Lovelady saw a girl on the first floor who he believes was Victoria Adams”?

“All three witnesses agree on seeing each other on the first floor.”

Obviously, this is not true either. And like the Warren Report before him, Willens ignored Sandra Styles, a fourth member of this first floor meet-and-greet, and clearly an important one. Her corroborative value is significant, as is the fact she knew both Shelley and Lovelady yet is adamant in saying they were not on the first floor when the girls arrived there.

Investigators David Belin and Howard Willens

David Belin (left) with Willens on first floor of TSBD, March 1964

In my follow-up email I brought all this to Willens’ attention, and reiterated everything regular followers of this blog have read concerning Vicki. I mentioned Vicki’s strong denial to ever having said she saw Shelley and Lovelady on the first floor, and the evidence that is consistent with that denial. I also sent him a copy of the Martha Joe Stroud letter, explaining its sinister implications and reminding him that, for some reason, it had been suppressed from public view for 35 years.

“I don’t mean to be argumentative,” I wrote, “but bearing all this in mind, what are your thoughts?”

I suppose I pigeonholed myself into that “sharp challenge” category.

Months later, I’m still awaiting a reply.

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The Opperman Report

The latest attempt to introduce Victoria Adams to those unfamiliar with her story. It was broadcast last night, October 11, and will be repeated on many AM/FM iHeartRadio outlets during the week of October 14. Give a listen … please.

3c7b1861f27001e339f2b1a875bed0bc    https://www.spreaker.com/user/oppermanreport/girl-on-the-stairs-the-the-search-for-a-

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Further Corroboration

As previously mentioned, it’s always fascinating to hear from the people who once knew Victoria Adams. To a one, they corroborate her character. Here’s a recent example:
Mr. Ernest,  
Miss Adams was my 6th grade teacher at IHM Catholic School in 1961-1962! She was the best teacher I ever had at all levels. She taught all subjects well, but it was her enthusiastic, positive attitude that amazed me!
She was different from all other teachers because she let us know it was important to be yourself! Miss Adams had guest speakers from the community. Once a detective spoke to the class about the importance of paying attention to detail. When he left, she said “take out a piece of paper and write down everything you noticed about our speaker”!! The winner got a prize for how much he had noticed about our guest, his clothes, his mannerisms, even how long he spoke.
We had a class Christmas party, off school grounds, which she arranged. She asked me to be Santa, dress up and have each student sit on my lap and tell me what they wanted for Christmas! She made me feel like a leader! I was not an artist, but had a sense of humor! She helped me win a craft contest on the Bible and manners. Her hint about the Garden of Eden and Ladies First (the 1st apple bite) was the reason I won! Several times a year, I would think of Miss Adams and how she truly changed my life!
      I decided to find her and thank her for all she meant to me! I found your book on the internet! I ordered your book and can’t wait to read it! “Miss Adams” changed my life! Thank you for defending this incredible lady! She always told the truth and was a stickler for details!
Thank you,
David

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Sisters

One of the highlights of writing a book distributed world-wide is the opportunity of dealing with the many readers from all walks of life who contact me in one way or the other.

Especially stirring is the correspondence from people who once knew the heroine of my book, Vicki Adams, on a more personal level: friends, high-school classmates, teachers, foster parents, coworkers. To the letter, they all confirm the type of character Vicki was: cautious yet generous, careful with words, intelligent, and above all else, a stickler for principles and truths.

Then came the day her sister wrote me.

Here was a relationship like no other: a blood relative who had shared an apartment with young Vicki in Dallas; a woman who Vicki trusted and had confided in shortly after the assassination; a woman who was in the same room that weekend when FBI agents first questioned Vicki.

In her email, Judi recalled a few key moments from that November.

A excited Vicki had called Judi at her work. Vicki wanted to relate an extraordinary experience: she had just witnessed the assassination of a U.S. president from the fourth-floor window of her office. She would go on to say she had noted three shots which she felt seemed to come from below and to the right side of her building. Vicki also said that immediately after the shooting, she and a coworker ran to the back stairs and had gone down them in order to get outside.

This is no doubt the earliest record of what Victoria Adams had seen, heard, and done that afternoon. Judi said Vicki repeated that narrative, identical in its details, during subsequent telephone conversations with her later that day.

Two days afterwards, on November 24, Judi said she was in the same room with Vicki while FBI agents Edmond Hardin and Paul Scott sat in their apartment and asked her sister questions. At the time, Vicki, Judi, and one other girl were sharing expenses at 3651 Fontana Street in Dallas.

“I do remember her telling them exactly what she had told me over the telephone that afternoon and evening [of November 22],” Judi wrote. “Pretty much that she ran down the stairs either directly before Oswald or after him. What they seemed to be looking for was an eyewitness.”

In other words, had she seen Oswald escaping from above?

Judi’s memories of what Vicki told her in those early phone calls — impromptu as they were and made at such a nonpartisan hour — support word-for-word what Vicki would later describe to the Dallas Police, again to the FBI, and then ultimately to the Warren Commission. But on November 24, while Vicki sat nervously in front of those two agents, the problem surrounding the timing of when she had made her descent hadn’t yet surfaced.

And because on that date she had replied “no” to their question of had she seen anyone else on the stairs, Vicki Adams was not the kind of eyewitness the FBI was seeking.

 

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A Younger Vicki

Vicki

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October 5, 2018 · 2:54 pm

The Jacket

Many may think the title of this post refers to the jacket discovered by police as they searched for the murderer of Dallas Patrolman J. D. Tippit.

It does not.

Instead, it is in response to several readers who recently have asked me why the “jacket,” or cover, to the hardback edition of “The Girl on the Stairs” is as it is. Brief though it may be, here’s the story:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/19795027/BOOK-COVER-DESIGN-The-Girl-on-the-Stairs

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Turning The Tables

For quite a while I have been answering questions posed by readers of my book. Now I want to turn the tables and ask the readers a question. Let’s see what kind of discussions (if any) this query produces, shall we?

The question is:

What physical evidence puts Oswald in the so-named “sniper’s nest” at the time the shots were fired?

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A Garner By Any Other Name

Setting the record straight: to provide the facts about something that people have a false understanding or idea about

On that note, let me try to “set the record straight.”

Darryl Wayne Garner and Dorothy Ann Garner are not brother and sister.

Let me repeat: although they have the same last name, Darryl Wayne Garner and Dorothy Ann Garner are NOT brother and sister.

For those unfamiliar, Darryl Wayne was the guy arrested for shooting Warren Reynolds, who saw the fleeing assailant of policeman J. D. Tippit and couldn’t ID him as Lee Oswald…until after he was shot in the head by Darryl Wayne.

Yea, it was definitely Oswald, Reynolds would then say, a reflection of the dramatic improvement to his recollection.

Darryl would end up being released from jail based on an alibi provided by Nancy Mooney. Mooney (get this) was once a stripper for Jack Ruby.

You cannot write script this good.

Darryl was dead at the age of 30. Mooney was arrested for a dispute with her roommate. She was found hung in her jail cell, her name thus added to a growing list of those who perished in one way or another because of their assumed connection to JFK’s murder.

Dorothy Ann on the other hand led a far less complicated life. She was a supervisor for the Scott Foresman Co., located on the fourth-floor of the TSBD. On November 22, 1963, she became one of four women who watched the assassination from that office window, years later providing the words that proved Victoria Adams had been telling the truth after all.

But that’s another story.

Dorothy Garner

Dorothy Ann Garner

Anyway, somebody wrote to me recently asking for my thoughts on the idea that Darryl Wayne Garner was one of several shooters firing at Kennedy that day. His position was on the aforementioned fourth floor of the TSBD while sister Dorothy Ann Garner acted as his spotter.

This idea comes from somewhat of a deathbed “diary” in which one of those listed as being behind JFK’s murder was none other than Joe DiMaggio. This scenario has it that Joltin’ Joe was upset at the Kennedy’s, particularly Jack, for how his former wife Marilyn Monroe was treated, and maybe even done away with. The careful reader might now have an inkling toward the credibility of the aforementioned Garner-Garner idea.

The Garner-Garner idea is not new, however. It’s been around the block a few years and I’m frankly surprised it still exists. But it’s wrong. And here’s why.

Darryl Wayne GARNER of Warren Reynolds’ fame was born January 1, 1940, in Delta County, Texas. His parents were Roy Lee and Dahlia Beatrice (Barlett) GARNER.

Dorothy Ann DAVIS of TSBD fame was born on August 30, 1928, in Grandfield, Oklahoma, to Joseph Porter and Bertha Leona (Dority) DAVIS. Her husband, who she married in 1956, was Billy Joe GARNER.

Right about here you should be saying…wait a minute. If both Darryl and Dorothy (and perhaps even a missing bro Darryl) are indeed brother and sister, shouldn’t they share the same parents and the same surname? And shouldn’t it be either Darryl Wayne DAVIS, or Dorothy Ann GARNER, in her case Garner from the get go and not a name change due to marriage?

Those are really good questions.

Dorothy Savage

Dorothy F. Garner

Evidence mounts when you look at the obituaries of both sets of parents. There is no listing for a Darryl Wayne as a sibling to Joesph and Bertha Davis. Conversely, there is no listing for a Dorothy Ann as a daughter to Roy and Dahlia Garner.

Yet here is where I think the confusion—either that or intentional misrepresentation—originates. Darryl Wayne Garner’s parents DID in fact have a daughter named Dorothy. Her name was Dorothy F. Garner. (Note the initial.) She was born in 1934 and later became an airplane electrician in Irving, Texas. But she was never employed at the TSBD.

In JFK assassination lore, Dorothy Ann Garner, the TSBD one, is often mistakenly identified and given the aka name of Dorothy Faye Garner. I once asked Dorothy Ann about the Faye middle name and was told emphatically she never, ever used it and didn’t recall anyone else using it. At most, she said, she was referred to as “Aunt D” or maybe “Dot,” and nothing more.

So, do you think this will set the record straight once and for all? Don’t bet on it. If history is prelude in this subject, the error will persist simply because it offers a far better entertainment value than the facts.

Agreed?

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Connections

I’m fortunate to have more than 700 Facebook friends. Although I’ve become privy to their whims and ways, I really don’t know many on a personal basis. I’ve never met the majority, or shaken a hand, or chatted over an iced tea. That’s more a regret than a criticism. It’s a sign of the times, I guess. And yet, despite such detachment, there always seems to be a few who will spark a connection to my own sometimes distant whims and ways.

Flashback: July 1970

I’m sitting in one of those little tow tractors used to reposition jets on the flight deck. The jets are gone now so it’s dark out, quiet. We’re on our way back to America after a seven-month deployment. Tomorrow, we’ll dock in Florida. Tomorrow, my enlistment is done.

But this evening, it’s just the stars, my wristwatch…and me. It’s a given there will be no sleep. So a buddy has loaned me a cassette player for company. Good for an hour of his favored 60’s rock. Then what?

It’s 10 PM when I press play:

You were the sunshine, baby, whenever you smiled
But I call you stormy today
All of a sudden that ole rain’s fallin’ down
And my world is cloudy and gray

Huh? Who is this guy with such a smooth, clear voice, a kind of throaty baritone both distinctive and alluring, so different from the current airwaves fare?

The song ends; another begins:

In the cool of the evening
When everything is gettin’ kind of groovy
I call you up and ask you
Would you like to go with me and see a movie
First you say no you’ve got some plans for the night
And then you stop and say…all right
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you

It’s emotional, soulful, mellow. The band is seamless with elements of jazzy sax coupled with soft rock. But it’s that melancholy voice that is so hauntingly magnetic:

Waves…keep rolling out and in
‘Cross the sea and back again
As I watch them I begin,
To dream…

The tape runs out and I check its label. The Classics IV.

The Classics who?

Rewind to start. Play. Rewind. OK, once more. Then again. Again. And again again.

Before I know it…

When the sun comes up in the morning
Till the shadows start to fade
I think about a midnight long ago…

…it is 6 AM.

And someone named Dennis Yost has kept me company all night long.

Fast forward: May 2017

I’ve become Facebook friends with Linda Yost. She describes herself as the “wife/widow” of Dennis Yost. Yes, that Dennis Yost. It is only now that I learn of his death. He fell down a flight of stairs in 2006, suffered a debilitating brain injury, and passed away after spending the next two years in nursing homes.

I should be immune to poignant passings by now. Yet for some reason this news makes me feel very hollow.

The music of The Classics IV has been a constant companion in my life, evolving from cassette and LP to CD. In fact, the songs helped provide the generational inspiration I needed as I sat to write my book.

I never met Dennis Yost, although I would have relished the opportunity if only because of his influence on that dark night at sea. Yet listening to his voice and those Classics sounds always evokes a strange sense of closeness that is difficult to understand let alone convey.

Today, Linda is in charge of the Dennis Yost Severe Brain Trauma Foundation in Ohio.

I naturally must tell her the circumstances surrounding my introduction, as it were, to her husband. I feel silly, an old man recollecting what must seem like a teen-aged groupie story. I guess you had to be there, alone on that flight deck that night, to make sense of it, I say.

“No, I understand,” she replies, and adds how, before she even met Dennis, her family’s new dog had been christened “Spooky.”

“Dennis didn’t seem to realize how much his music meant to people.”

She shares that Dennis, realizing he could no longer perform, entrusted his lead-singer role to friend Tom Garrett. In the final year of his life, Dennis worked closely with Tom to keep the legacy and musical traditions of The Classics IV alive.

“Tom Garrett is a huge admirer of JFK,” Linda informs me, further bridging the connection.

Then, she offers me complimentary tickets to an upcoming show in Pittsburgh, and a rare opportunity of getting together with her and Tom, who has also become a Facebook friend.

“Can’t wait to meet you,” Linda says.

August 5, 2017                                                                                  

I’m watching a 2013 performance of the band recorded on YouTube. It’s the best I can do under the circumstances: the Pittsburgh concert was unexpectedly cancelled at the last moment.

In this video, a backdrop screen shimmers as it displays passing images of Dennis Yost. Tom Garrett walks forward to sing Traces. It was the highest-charting single by The Classics IV back in the heyday:

Faded photographs
Covered now with lines and creases
Tickets torn in half
Memories in bits and pieces

It’s fitting that he offers this particular song with these particular lyrics while those particular snapshots float overhead.

Tom has the admirable habit of doing this.

“I tell people that the place I stand on, on that stage, belongs to Dennis Yost,” he once told an interviewer. “He earned it and he asked me to take care of it for him. So, I’m the caretaker of that place on stage. That’s how I see my role.”

Although an in-person(s) connection was not made, I feel like I’ve come full circle with The Classics IV. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve circled back on myself.

I can picture Dennis Yost standing on a stage, mic in hand, that notable voice singing like he forever will on my overplayed disks. But of course that scene is nothing more than nostalgia talking. And that can be a dangerous dialogue if you aren’t careful enough.

For it is no longer Dennis Yost up there. It is no longer Cobb and Eaton and Wilson behind him. They have become the past. They have become one more regret.

But the passage of life and the evolution of The Classics IV has in no way diminished the quality of their current sound, nor the effectiveness of those enduring — dare I say endearing — lyrics. What you see now is the new Classics IV, still alive and well and doing what they do best. It is what Dennis Yost wanted, strived to make happen in his final days, worked hard to have continue long after his own passage through life.

And the connection to him – even though it’s without him – will always live on.

When the sun comes up in the morning
Till the shadows start to fade
I think about a midnight long ago…

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An Interview

Q:  “I’ve been told you did an interesting interview several years ago with someone named ‘Wilson’ (first name unknown). I’ve searched online but can’t seem to find it. Do you happen to have a copy I can read?” Ben (Sacramento, Calif.)

A: Thanks for your interest, Ben. The interview was done in February 2014 with Bob Wilson. A transcript is below.

Can you tell those who may not know who Vicki Adams was a bit about her history and her relation to the JFK case? And also about her time as a nun?     

Vicki was born in San Francisco. At the age of 11, she became a ward of the State of California after her parents abandoned her, something that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She was shuffled between several foster homes until she graduated in 1959 from Presentation High School, an all-girls’ Catholic institution. She then entered the Novitiate at St. Martin, Ohio, in the Ursuline Order, studying to become a nun. She had gone to boarding school there at the age of 10 and considered the environment to be somewhat stable and orderly, characteristics she was desperately seeking. Two years later she moved to Atlanta, where she taught a sixth-grade class at the Immaculate Heart of Mary school. When the academic year ended in 1962, she was off again, this time to Dallas for another job as a sixth-grade teacher at St. Monica’s school. In mid-1963, the Scott Foresman Co., with local offices on the fourth-floor of the Texas School Book Depository, was looking to expand their school textbook sales into the Catholic school system in the southwest. Vicki applied for the position and was hired. It was from the windows of her new workplace that she observed the assassination below. Moments after the final shot, she ran from the fourth floor and descended the back stairs of the Depository to get outside and see what had happened. According to the Warren Report, her actions would have put her on those stairs at the same time Lee Oswald was coming down them from the sixth floor “sniper’s nest.” But because she testified that she had seen and heard no one on those stairs, Vicki was labeled as having been mistaken with her timing, and dismissed.

On November 22, 1963 there seem to be some witnesses to corroborate Ms. Adams testimony. Can you please tell us about that?

The Warren Report gives the impression that Miss Adams made her trip down the back stairs alone. It fails to mention, however, that a co-worker by the name of Sandra Styles accompanied Vicki and could have provided corroboration as to the timing of their descent. This fact is not revealed unless one makes the effort to read the testimony of Miss Adams in the 26 volumes. In addition, Miss Adams’ supervisor, Dorothy Garner, actually followed Vicki and Sandra out the rear of the office and watched as they entered the staircase. So we have two additional witnesses who could have attested to what Vicki was saying. Sandra Styles was never questioned by the Warren Commission. And a document citing Dorothy Garner in which we find confirmation of Vicki’s accuracy was suppressed until 1999. Dorothy Garner, by the way, was not officially questioned by the Warren Commission, but she told me in an exclusive interview in 2011 that “someone” from the Commission had indeed talked with her “briefly” about this incident. No record or transcript of that interview can be found.

Can you describe the actions of Roy Truly and Marrion Baker in the Book Depository at the time of JFK’s murder, and how you interviewed them?

When the shots were fired, Dallas Police Officer Marrion Baker, riding a motorcycle in the motorcade, noticed pigeons flying from the roof of the Depository. He ran into the building with intentions of getting to the roof and was met by TSBD supervisor Roy Truly. Both then proceeded up the rear staircase. On the second floor, Baker noticed a man entering the second of two doorways leading to a lunchroom and went to confront him. When Truly told the officer this man was an employee, Baker holstered his drawn gun and both he and Truly continued up the stairs. The lunchroom man turned out to be Oswald, who then left the building by way of the front door. I talked with Truly in 1968, who repeated his statements that Oswald was calm, cool and collected during his encounter with Baker. Truly told me Oswald did not present the appearance of one who had just shot the president of the United States. Unfortunately, Truly denied my request for access to the sixth floor. But he did allow me to roam around on the first floor and, when no one was looking, I climbed the back stairs to look around in the lunchroom and the surrounding area. I was fortunate to get a rare telephone interview with Marrion Baker in 2004, who provided details that also corroborated what Vicki Adams had been saying concerning the timing of her descent.

What do you feel may have been the motivation for the Warren Commission to cover up guilt in the case? And can you speak a bit about witnesses who say that their testimony was altered?

In my opinion, the cover up was the result of who the Warren Commission believed was involved in a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. Several witnesses I interviewed, including Roger Craig and Victoria Adams, told me their testimony had been changed from what they initially said versus what ended up being printed in the 26 volumes. Since my focus was on Vicki, I studied extensively her official statements and discovered only recently that TWO versions of her official Warren Commission testimony now exist, one declassified in 1967 and a second declassified in 2011, coincidentally two months after The Girl on the Stairs was published. Vicki always told me her testimony as it appears in the 26 volumes includes comments attributed to her that she did not say and, according to her, appeared to have been inserted with the express purpose of making her appear wrong. In order to determine if this was the case, I filed a FOIA request with the National Archives to examine the original stenographer’s notes of Vicki’s testimony – not a transcript but the actual words taken down by the court reporter who was present as Vicki was being questioned. I knew the Archives had these documents for they are listed in the inventory of JFK records under “Entry 39: Stenotype Notes of Proceedings, January 21-September 15, 1964.” Vicki had been questioned on April 7, 1964. Several weeks after my request, I was informed the notes regarding Vicki’s testimony were missing.

Can you please tell us a bit about the contents of your interview with Roger Craig as related to 11/22/63?

Roger Craig was a decorated Dallas deputy sheriff in 1963. Thanks to Penn Jones, I was able to get a lengthy taped interview with him in 1968. He was soft spoken and appeared to be credible, if a bit paranoid. The latter detail was based on his actions when he picked me up at my hotel and he conducted cat-and-mouse maneuvers on his way to his sister’s home outside Dallas. But as the afternoon progressed and I experienced first-hand an attempt by the Dallas police to intimidate him, I understood why he felt that way. During our interview he repeated what he had been saying up to that point: that he had seen a man he later identified as Lee Oswald run from the area of the Depository shortly after the assassination and get into a passing station wagon; that the rifle found on the sixth floor was a 7.65 German Mauser; that the ‘sniper’s nest” appeared to have been staged; that the paper bag used to transport the rifle was NOT present at the window; and that the three cartridge cases found near the sixth-floor window did not appear to have been recently fired.

What evidence places Lee Harvey Oswald in the lunchroom at the time of the murder of President Kennedy?

There is no evidence that definitively places Oswald in the second-floor lunchroom as the shots were being fired. If you believe what Oswald is quoted as telling police during his interrogation sessions (12 hours that went unrecorded and without a stenographer being present), he was eating his lunch in the first-floor domino room when the shots occurred, and then went to the second floor to purchase a drink. This is perhaps why Vicki Adams did not see him on the stairs, why he was so calm during the lunchroom confrontation, and why Baker first described Oswald as entering the lunchroom from a direction other than the back staircase. Certainly Vicki Adams saying she was on the stairs during this critical period presented an obvious problem to the Warren Commission’s scenario, which might explain why she was the only person excluded from time tests regarding Oswald’s escape, and why corroborating witnesses to her story were ignored.

How did you finally locate Ms. Adams, and what was her reaction to your overtures to offer her a platform to speak about these events?

In her testimony before the Warren Commission, Vicki said she graduated from high school in San Francisco. That little tidbit is eventually what led me to finding her, albeit some 35 years later. Once I purchased a computer to write my book, I used this new technology to conduct an online search through the alumni pages of every high school in the San Francisco Bay area, starting alphabetically with the letter “A.” When I finally reached Presentation High School, I came across a Victoria Adams in a graduating class of 1959. The name, of course, fit. So did the year. But several inquiries to the school resulted in no replies. A friend of mine – we’ll call him Larry Roberge – was a Pennsylvania State Police investigator who was also very adept with a computer. He offered to help. Within a week he had ferreted out Vicki’s email address and had written her a note, saying that he was a former classmate of hers at Presentation and was wondering if she was the Victoria Adams who had once worked in Dallas for the Scott Foresman Company. When Vicki replied yes, she was indeed that woman, he turned the matter over to me and the rest is my history. Vicki would later tell me she was very curious about his reference to once being a classmate of hers, since Presentation was an all-girls’ school. Vicki was at first hesitant to talk about her past, not really knowing much about me. I had to do some work to convince her that I was legitimate. She would later say the fact I was so persistent in my efforts to determine her side of the story was what eventually made her trust me and feel comfortable about discussing it.

Can you describe a bit your relationship to researcher Harold Weisberg, and what kind of a man that you knew him to be?

I had read Harold’s Whitewash series by the time I stumbled across him one morning as he sat in the National Archives. I was new to this mess then and, for some reason, he took me under his wing. Many have since said that my current beliefs on this subject were influenced solely by Harold’s conclusions that a government cover up had occurred. That is simply not true. My current beliefs have been influenced by an objective and thorough approach to examining the existing evidence, a lesson in research methods taught to me by Harold. He would often call me up or discuss in person various research projects – what he called “assignments” – that he wanted me to work on. I was flattered by the opportunities, even though his “assignments” often got me followed, my phone tapped, and my mail opened. As it turned out, his final “assignment” for me was to write The Girl on the Stairs. [For a better understanding of Harold’s thoughts, see A Conversation with Harold Weisberg by clicking on the Interviews tab above.]

What changes in policy do you think those responsible for JFK’s death might have been trying to force?

Now here you have hit upon the key to it. What was happening before his death and what occurred after? Kennedy’s efforts toward peace and an easing of world tensions were not popular policies back then.

Were any witnesses in the JFK case that you came across intimidated, or possibly murdered?

I can think of three who I knew. Roger Craig was clearly nervous about coming into Dallas that day for our interview. Carroll Jarnagin was even worse during the two times I talked with him. Jarnagin was a Dallas attorney who claimed he saw Oswald and Ruby together in Ruby’s nightclub. He told me someone tried to asphyxiate him as he slept in his home one night. Then there is Victoria Adams, who said a Dallas Police investigator appeared on her doorstep one night under circumstances that suggested she had been followed to that address. When she asked the officer why she was being questioned again since she had already provided a statement to the Dallas Police, he told her that her file had been burned in a fire at police headquarters. This, of course, did not happen.

Can you speak a little about the murder of Officer Tippit, and how that seems to fit into the overall case.

In my opinion, the murder of Officer J. D. Tippit has not been completely resolved. There are just too many unanswered questions here. We have the official version, of course. But that contains a lot of evidentiary holes and contradictions. Then, for instance, you have statements by Mrs. Donald Higgins, who I interviewed, who said the Tippit murder occurred at 1:06 pm, certainly much earlier than the 1:16 pm time proposed by the Commission. That earlier time would preclude Oswald from having committed it, unless he arrived there by some other means. Mrs. Higgins was never officially questioned about any of this (do you see the pattern here?). If it were only her providing this earlier time, one could easily say she was mistaken. But the circumstances surrounding how she arrived at that time are very credible, she had no reason to lie, and other witnesses (including one the Commission used to say Oswald did it) have supported an earlier time to Tippit’s murder as well.

Lee Harvey Oswald was labeled as a loner, and malcontent. From what you have learned of him, can you describe a bit about who he seems to have actually been?

He was definitely an odd fellow. But he was also smart, capable, for instance, of beating others more advanced than he was at chess and, if you believe the official record, able to teach himself Russian, one of the most challenging languages to learn, especially on your own. He liked the opera and was a vociferous reader, knowledgeable in a lot of subjects. His actions in both his military and civilian lives seem consistent with someone having a far deeper complexity than what we have been told. Oh, and he was also a rather poor shot!

Can you please tell us about the latest edition of your book?

The Girl on the Stairs was initially self-published. I had several literary agents early on in the game who offered it to numerous commercial publishers. Those publishers either weren’t interested, or wanted me to write a concluding chapter speculating as to how the assassination went down and who I thought did it. Since the whole point of my book was a search for truth and for the woman who ultimately possessed it, I refused to conclude it with nothing more than conjecture. Harold Weisberg had taught me well. “But it’s for entertainment,” one publisher commented. I was not convinced. My final literary agent suggested I self-publish and perhaps if I could sell near 10,000 books on my own, it might catch the eye of a commercial publisher. To my amazement, the book sold 15,000 copies in one year. Pelican Publishing in New Orleans became interested and, with updated research and a better editorial eye from their end, it became more widely available last year. The truth behind Victoria Adams is finally becoming known. And that was the point of all of this.

Your research seems to have led Ms. Adams to at least some closure and validation. As you look back on these experiences and all of your research, what do you come away with in your feelings of Ms. Adams and this aspect of the case?

Miss Adams has been dismissed for simply doing what we are all taught to do: tell the truth. Honesty and truthfulness were core values to her, characteristics gained through her religious upbringing and clearly evident when one got to know her. The instability of her early life and her later treatment by a government she once believed in led to constant feelings of fear on her part. Although she passed away before The Girl on the Stairs was published, she knew the direction the book was taking. She once told me all she ever wished for out of this was for people to know that she had told the truth. I can only hope that she was finally able to come to terms with this part of her life and realize that her wish was going to come true, no matter how long it took.

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